The first time I ever heard American Slang was in my freshman college dorm room, just a week or two from the end of school, on a gorgeous April spring day. Now, if I’d been a law-abiding listener, the wait to hear the new album from The Gaslight Anthem—their follow-up to 2008’s acclaimed The ’59 Sound—still would have been the better part of two months. American Slang didn’t officially hit the streets until June 15. But 2010 was maybe the golden age of album leaks, and as a broke college student with a budget for little more than gas and the occasional midnight McDonald’s run with my roommate, that fact was very good news for me. It also meant that American Slang, a bulletproof summer soundtrack album, got to serve as the bookend to my first year of college, and to all the anticipation I was feeling as four months of summer approached.
When The ’59 Sound broke in 2008, The Gaslight Anthem quickly became one of the most buzzed-about rock bands in all the circles I was a part of online. Here was a band that respected classic rock traditions and made them sound new again; a band willing to pilfer from their influences in the most loving manner possible; a band whose frontman was, perhaps, worthy of being called “this generation’s Bruce Springsteen.” All that hype only became louder and louder throughout 2009 and into the early part of 2010, which meant that by the time Gaslight announced their new record, excitement for it was through the roof. A title and an album cover that seemed to promise another sweeping classic-rock-styled masterpiece? Well, who could resist that?Read More “The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang”
Jackson Sinnenberg, writing at Medium:
When we were doing the designs for merch I was like “I don’t care what I like. What do we think the people who come to our shows will like?” That’s what it should be! It’s not about me. I’m happy to be there, I’m not going to be phoning it in! I’m happy about giving it to them. I don’t look at it like it’s a bad thing. I’m happy there are people there to take it. Like if you asked Ian [MacKaye] the same way how he felt about Fugazi; “Whose band is Fugazi right now?” I bet Ian would say “Not mine, Not Guy’s. It’s their band.” It is! It’s their band! They’re maintaining the house, they’re trimming the garden because their memories do it. It’s become part of their lives now. So, it’s hands off for me.
We’ve been angered and saddened to hear reports of sexual assault and harassment in the audience at our shows. From the very beginning of this band, we have strived to create a positive and safe environment for our fans and this kind of abhorrent behavior can not and will not be tolerated at our shows. It’s clear that this disturbing trend is on the rise in our industry, and that ignoring or dismissing the problem sends a very clear message to perpetrators that they can get away with their behavior. As a result, we want to help to shine a light on the issue and ask our fans to do the same.
We’ve reached out to the authorities and the venues that were involved in these incidents.
There are a number of amazing organizations raising awareness and providing education around this problem, including Safe Gigs For Women.
If you see something please say something, get involved, and help however you can. We want everyone looking out for each other.
Over the course of the past 10 years, few albums from the 2000s have stuck with me quite like The ’59 Sound. One of the undeniable truths of being a consummate life soundtracker is that most of your favorite albums end up being inextricably linked to certain periods of time. You play those records so much when they’re new to you that they become a collage of moments and memories from your life. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens, but it also tends to mean your favorite LPs eventually fall out of regular rotation, as you reach for new music to play that role for new moments and memories. Most of my favorite albums fit into this category. My other 2008 classics—records like Butch Walker’s Sycamore Meadows and Jack’s Mannequin’s The Glass Passenger—are albums I revisit only every month or two, not because I don’t love them, but because they hold so many pieces of my past self within their songs. Those albums could never be life soundtracks to me today, because they already played that role at such vivid and crucial junctures of my life.
The ’59 Sound is different. It’s the rare “favorite record” in my life that isn’t tied to any one specific moment or season or year. It’s a record that has grown with me over time, one that has meant a dozen different things to me from one year to the next. Where other records I loved back then have drifted more into the background, The ’59 Sound is a record I’ve played regularly—probably once every couple weeks, at least—for the better part of the past decade. A part of the reason is probably my initial indifference to the album. The ’59 Sound got a lot of hype in 2008, but my first listens told me it was something dated and backwards-looking: songs stuck in the past that didn’t have relevance to my present. (Note: this opinion is my worst first impression of all time.) Because I was never infatuated with this album like I was with many of the LPs that came out around the same time, I never “wore it out” in the same way.
The intangible thing of “The ’59 Sound,” it didn’t mean anything about the ’50s. I didn’t imagine people banging on jukeboxes and Fonzie and all that. I’m not interested in any of that. To me, it reminded me of my grandmother and a time where simpler things were valued more. Friendships, relationships, and that kind of thing. There weren’t so many distractions. You didn’t have so many goals. Now, a kid grows up, and he could be anything. That’s great, but it’s also very daunting. Because which one of the anythings do you be?
I wasn’t sure which was my favorite record, but Handwritten was definitely a contender. Handwritten is one where the whole band was firing on all cylinders. We accepted our place in the world, we were playing in front of a lot of people, and there were a lot of people watching us. So we were just writing a record that was a good, fun record to listen to.
Side One Dummy have posted up pre-orders for The Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound Sessions (containing previously unreleased demos). It’ll be out on June 15th and some packages come with a new 60-page photo book.
He was conscious, he seems keen to say, of the expectation that weighs on an artist making their second album: “When you do a second record, you have to sort of firm up what you’re gonna do. You’ve gotta be like, ‘Am I doing this kind of music? Or am I doing this kind of music?’” He explains further: “The first record that people do, you get a little leeway. You get like, ‘Oh! He tried some weird stuff, that’s cool.’ But then with the next one they’ve expected you to figure it out.”
“Whenever someone mentions a record, that’s when I step away. And the reason for that is because right now, I can’t see what a new Gaslight record would sound like. When you take the records that we’ve done that I’m very proud of – and I’m proud of all of them, even the later ones – I don’t know what I would add to that right now.”
The Gaslight Anthem have announced a series of The ’59 Sound anniversary shows.
We had call, and we were just like, ‘Hey, are we gonna just ignore this?’ I know we’re on hiatus — we’re not doing anything, everybody’s off doing their own thing, and everybody’s fine. But if we let this go, that says something. That would come across as apathetic to me. I was like, ‘I don’t feel apathetic about this. How do you guys feel?’ They didn’t feel apathetic at all. They felt like, yeah, we should probably do something.
Then we thought, ‘if we play some shows, what happens? Do we have to start the whole thing up again?’ What realized, well, no, because of this record, we can do what we did in the beginning, which is [anything] we wanted.